Christmas deployed – our military away from home

by Melinda

Do you know anyone who is deployed or will be deployed by Christmas? As a veteran I know first hand what it’s like to be overseas and away from family at Christmas. It’s not easy.

Marines enjoy Christmas morning by sharing photos and messages from home

Start planning now if you know someone in our Armed Forces who won’t be home for Christmas.

Give plenty of thought and planning on how you can bring a part of your Christmas to them wherever they are.

Christmas gifts, for example, need to be mailed quite early … much sooner in fact than something you might mail across the country.

Verify this with the post office (ideally a post office on a military base), but I’d be mailing by mid-November for a package going overseas.

Also think about your family traditions.

How do you spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?

Then give careful thought on how you can have your sailor, marine, airman or soldier share in some of those family Christmas traditions. Be creative. Use your imagination.

Here’s an easy example: Are there certain cookies you ALWAYS bake at Christmas? Any candies you make?

Wrap ’em up carefully (triple wrap with Saran/Glad Wrap and them place inside ZipLoc bags and surround the bags with plenty of padding), and ship them over there!

Not knowing your own traditions it’s hard to make specific suggestions, but here are some ideas to get you thinking:

* Send a small (very small table-top) artificial Christmas tree with some decorations

* Send them a special tea, coffee, or mulled cider you only have at Christmas

* Get the family together and record yourselves singing some Christmas carols. Send the recording.

* Gather up photos and snapshots of several past Christmases (go back to childhood as well as recent years). Put them together in a video with holiday music.

* What Christmas decorations could you safely send for their barracks room, bunk, or tent? Consider something that won’t break like a fabric Santa Claus. Maybe a few artificial poinsettia blossoms or a small artificial wreath.

* Put some small toys – designed for little children but for your grown-up soldier – in a Christmas stocking and mail it off. Something like Jacks, Tiddly-Winks (not sure I spelled that right), some marbles or the like.

You would be amazed how much these gestures mean to a loved one deployed. Yes, even the simple toys we enjoyed as a child can be a lot of fun for your military member and their friends. That’s the stuff that helps pass a lot of time … helps ease the loneliness.

Santa and his 7-ton truck are ready to deliver Christmas to deployed troops: Trees, lights, fake snow, gifts and goodies from home.

And if you don’t know anyone in the service and still want to do something, there are many charities that need care packages for our deployed military.

Here are three places to find nonprofit groups who support veterans and their families:

GuideStar (an independent rating organization of charities)

Veterans Network Directory (directory of veterans groups, nonprofits, etc.)

Great Nonprofits (an independent rating organization of charities)

And when you find a veteran-related nonprofit you like, please don’t hesitate to call them up and ask them directly what you can do to send Christmas and family traditions to deployed troops.

Still not sure what to send? Help them pass the time by reading a collection of old-fashioned heart-warming Christmas stories. That’s a collection of great stories I’ve assembled. Send them via email if you have their email address. Otherwise print it out and mail it.

Email, webcams, and phone cards are terrific. Yet nothing replaces those packages from home with family Christmas traditions and love packed inside.

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